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City of Bandera - closures, fees & committees

By Judith Pannebaker BCC Editor

(Cowboy Mardi Gras, sponsored by the 11th Street Cowboy Bar, is now one for the books - and by all accounts, the 2013 evolution was another huge success. As one longtime Bandera businessman noted, "Before this, February was always a dry time here. This has become a wonderful addition for local businesses.")

The Thursday, Jan. 10, meeting of Bandera City Council droned on and on - mostly because of the by-now-familiar acrimonious debate surrounding the closing 11th Street on Saturday, Feb. 2, from 6 am to midnight.
The occasion for the closure would be the eighth annual 11th Street Cowboy Bar Cowboy Mardi Gras and Gumbo Cook Off, the proceeds of which would benefit the Frontier Times Museum.
'Groundhog Day' redux
Reminiscent of "Groundhog Day," the same debate rages every year with CB Bar owner James McGroarty requesting the closure and Cathy Spinks and Anita Dunnenberg, proprietors of the 11th Street Mercantile - along with their vendors - arguing against the request. McGroarty noted that the event would net from $3,000 to $5,000 for the museum. "Last year we donated $4,700 to the Boys & Girls Club," he said.
Spinks and Dunnenberg countered the closure routinely cuts their Saturday profits by 50 percent. "I'm not against the fundraiser, but I oppose the street closing," Dunnenberg said.
Councilman Brandi Morgan summed up the conundrum by saying, "We have to come up with something. Every six months James and Cathy are ready to kill each other."
Although this was the first time he had witnessed the sometimes vitriolic back and forth, Mayor Don Clark reached the end of his patience. "This will be the last time we talk about this. Something is going to be done. Maybe this is something the business committee could work out," Clark suggested. (Read on for information about the soon-to-be-formed citizens' committees.)
Other suggestions
No one seemed amenable to City Councilman Jim Hannah's recommendation that the request be tabled and revisited during the Jan. 24 meeting. In the meantime, he said, an agreeable compromise might be reached.
In retrospect, it was precipitous that Hannah's suggestion was not acted upon as the Jan. 24 meeting was unaccountably cancelled. The next meeting is slated for Thursday, Feb. 7, barring anything unforeseen.
City Councilman Maggie Schumacher thought it better to approve the street closure at this juncture and then rehash the problems and other solutions during a meeting while the problems remained fresh. Considerations could then be made regarding future events.
In the end, by a 4-1 majority, with Hannah voting against the motion, that is what will occur.
In an interview after the vote, Morgan said, "If (Hannah) thought we were going to go through this again in two weeks, he was wrong. The same thing would have occurred and that wasn't going to happen."
Harry Harris, vice president of the Frontier Times Museum Board of Directors, suggested to Spinks and Dunnenberg that business cards and flyers promoting their antiques mall be placed on the museum's table at the celebration.
Mo' $$$
In a related topic, local business owners and nonprofits might be nonplussed to discover that the city's Special Use Permits required for special events within the municipality will soon cost more. City council approved tacking on an extra $200 for the use of barricades and trashcans and cleanup with an optional $200 for the marshal's office if security is provided. The original proposed fee totaled $600.
Cardenas justified the expense by noting the city usually ends up paying for misplaced or destroyed barricades and trashcans. "I think this is an excellent idea," Clark said.
Both Hegemier and Morgan expressed concern about the additional fees with Morgan suggesting a deposit could be made prior to events.
"That would cause more paperwork and problems," Clark noted, adding, "We're not here to discourage events ..."
McGroarty asked if the additional fees would also be applied to nonprofits. He also noted that the fee would be more than that charged by the City of Boerne.
Speaking for the Frontier Times Museum, Harris said the museum is a hand-to-mouth organization and asked the council to give special consideration to nonprofits. "We want to be a partner with the city driving money to the city's coffers," he said.
Although Cardenas said that $150 fee would cover the city's expenses during special events, Clark said, "We'll go to $200 and try it for a year." The motion passed unanimously.
McGroarty opined that nonprofits asking for a slice of the hotel-motel tax pie would simply tack an extra $200 onto their monetary requests.
Citizens' committees
In other business, Clark sought approval from council to appoint "Citizens Committees, Business Committees and City Council Commissioners." This went along with a proposal that has been put forth intermittently by former Councilman Robert Koimn. Clark said the committees would consist of five members and a chairman, as well as a liaison from city council, with appointees rotating every five to six months.
"They would have no authority, but they would work with me for input and I would report back to council or they would report to council themselves," he explained. "They would be in advisory positions." As an example, he said Morgan might work on the "park beautification project." Another councilman would be in charge of the infrastructure and wastewater treatment committee, Clark indicated.
"Where would the city administrator fit into all this?" City Administrator Mike Cardenas asked. Apparently this was the first time he had heard of Clark's idea. According to the mayor, Cardenas would still be in charge with assistance by the citizens' committees. Additionally, as city administrator, Cardenas would not be required to attend meetings of the various committees nor would those meetings be subject to the Open Meetings Act.
"They would just be an unofficial group of people trying to do something," Clark said.